Why do you need that software OTA update?

Software updates over the air are popularly called, OTA have been a point of debate for about a decade now. There are two types of updates that are rolled out to any product: Minor update and Major update. Minor update takes care of bug fixes, hardening of platform, code stabilization, security updates, etc. Major update would include new features, visual language change, user experience change and also some bug fixes. These updates are common for any hardware or software product. But lets us talk about iOS and Android here. Let us also discuss if you will really need an update.

Here is why you didn’t get that update on Android

Any product user, iOS or Android would need minor updates. These minor updates are mostly device specific and sometime platform specific. But there is a long standing accusation against Android that major updates don’t come regularly. Here is a reason for non-availability or delay of updates on Android devices. While there are less than a dozen iOS based devices in the world, there are over 50k different types of Android devices that exist on this planet. A major update needs massive effort and it has to go through multiple levels of testing and certification. The device manufacturer is not the platform owner. Most of the time, the tests and certifications don’t pass or don’t meet the eligibility criteria. Every time a major version of the platform is released, the OEM has to put a mamoth sized task force to update. Once the build is ready, it has to be certified by Google and other certification authority. There are multiple reasons for the certification process to fail or get delayed. We will not get into this. Just understand that it is not a straight forward process like changing oil in your bike. It is a major overhaul.

Some leading OEMs work closely with Android and they would know the future changes that is coming up on the platform. They get a lead time to prepare their hardware and software for the future. e.g: Motorola. A few mobile manufactures like MIUI have their own standards for visuals and they are always a step ahead of the core platform. They are not dependent on Google and they have their own update timelines. Most of the mobile manufacturers are clueless about the Android roadmap. They run around like headless chicken and few make it to the next major update.

iOS is owned by Apple and all the devices running on iOS are made by Apple. They have very less dependency on external certification. Hence all iOS devices will get the major and minor updates as and when it rolls out.


Here is why you may not need that update

Why do you need an update? I have asked this question to many and the most popular answer I get is, “coz, I want the latest”. Just put some brain into that question. You are not going to miss out on your existing features and applications because you are not on the latest operation system version. You may miss out a few new features, but having those features on the mobile may mean a slower response time or an unstable operating environment. I would always prefer a stable environment than an unstable operating system version. When you got the mobile, it was running on a particular version of Android. The manufacturer has tested it and made sure that it works perfectly with the hardware. The may have also been tested and found eligible for one future major update. But no manufacturer can promise beyond that, without compromising on the performance of device.

I have had many friends come to asking me to help them roll back to original out of the box version of Android, because the new update just screwed their happiness. Before you fall for “I want the latest” pit, understand the capability of your device. Major updates always demand more resource and that could cost you serious performance issues. This is the same with iOS as well. Trying running iOS 10 on iPhone 4. It is sluggish as hell. Latest is not always the fastest.

On the other hand, if you are not getting minor updates, that is a real point of worry. It means that your OEM has neglected your mobile model and it is nearing its end of support time.

If you are having a particular issue and most people who have your model are also facing it, a minor update is what you need to fix. A major update wont do any good.

Rooting will help?

If you are impatient for a major update, you can go ahead and root your mobile and load it with the latest version of the OS or a custom variant of the ROM. That is when you will understand the problems faced by the development team at the OEM. The custom ROMs available out there don’t have a streamlined testing and certification problem. This could cause more stability issues to your device. This is the reason why your warranty is void when the device is rooted. Yet, rooting and custom ROMs are fun to explore. I would not advice exploring that end of the world, unless you are a trained trouble-shooter.

So here is the long story short. Android world and iOS ecosystem are totally different. Just because iOS gets frequent updates, it is no way superior to Android. The way the cog wheels turn on these systems are not comparable. Stop complaining about not receiving updates on your Android system. Your mobile is probably at its best with its existing hardware and software combination.

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